Busy work and relaxing weekend

Hi friends!

Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long. Since I last posted, work has absolutely exploded for me. While many of my friends will be tired of hearing me whine and complain about the hours I’ve been working, I figure I can whine and complain just a little more. A quick snapshot of the last week and a half:

Sunday, 15 March- spent the day traveling back from Zagreb, Croatia. By the time I got home, it was 6 pm, and I had time to go out for a nice dinner with Assen, after being away all week.
Monday, 16 March- worked from 8:30 am- 12:30 am.
Tuesday, 17 March- worked from 7:30 am- midnight
Wednesday, 18 March- worked from 9 am- 11:30 pm
Thursday, 19 March- had to drive 3 hours to my client, left my house at 7 am. Worked until 7:30 pm. Had a meal out with my team that night which was great fun, though meant I did not get to bed until 1 am.

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Champagne cocktail that I had that night. Delicious but deadly!

 
Friday, 20 March- worked from 8:00 am- 4:00pm, drove home for 3 hours, worked an additional 2 hours once I got home
Saturday, 21 March- slept in, as I was exhausted. Started working at 11:30 am- 1:00 am
Sunday, 22 March- slept in again. Worked from 11:30 am- midnight, with a glorious 3 hour break in the middle to chat with my mom and sister.
Monday, 23 March- worked 8 am- 1 am
Tuesday, 24 March- worked 8:30 am- 1 am

Thankfully, my client deadline was early Wednesday morning, which meant I took Wednesday off and just laid in bed. I had all these glorious plans of working out, cleaning my house, making food- but instead I slept until 11, and then sat on the couch and watched tv for the entire day. But I think that’s exactly what I needed after working 127 hours in 9 days.

I know I owe you guys a recap on my time in Zagreb (and I promise that’ll be the next post), but figured I would share my weekend with you first, as after my few days of absolute insane working, I had a few really nice days over the weekend.

Friday was the celebration of the end of busy season. The nice thing about working at the firm that I do is that everyone is quite young, and therefore we hang out together, and have fantastic social events. This event was a cocktail making event, where they had 4 different kinds of drinks you could learn how to make, and they let us lose with bottles of alcohol. The drinks were actually quite tasty, and it was nice just to hang out with people I hadn’t seen in awhile and have a few drinks.

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Although we did head out to a club afterwards, neither Assen or I stayed long, as we had plans for the next day.

Saturday we were up at a good time, and took the train into London. London has a fantastic market by the London Tower (called Borough market). It’s London’s most renowned market, and has a great mix of cheeses, meats, fruits and vegetables, as well as food from all over the world. We had lunch there and then wandered around. I got some great finds, including some spices, flavoured balsamic vinegar, and blood oranges, and enjoyed many more nibbles with the free tastings.

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There was also a great wall where they had lines saying “Before I die, I want to” and people had written in chalk many different answers (as per below). It was fantastic to just hang out and read what people had said. I loved how many were about marrying their loves, or learning more about themselves. Some were funny (such as “Mind the gap”, which is what is said at every tube stop in London). Assen and I had a great chat about things we wanted to do before we died.

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We then waited in a line for 30 minutes so we could go up the Shard (the tallest building in London) for a cocktail. The drinks were pricey (about 15 pounds per cocktail) but were delicious, and the view made it more than worthwhile. We had to stand for a bit when we first got there, but then happened to see a table packing up- right by the window! It was such a great spot, and we both enjoyed just being able to sit and chat, and have nothing to do for a little while.

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(bonus was Tower of London and the London Bridge in the background)

We ended our day in London at our favourite Italian restaurant in town. The restaurant reminds me of being in Italy, down to the servers often not knowing words in English. The food is authentic and so delicious! Unfortunately, I didn’t snap any pictures of our food, or the restaurant, as I was too busy eating everything I could, as quickly as possible.

We were back in Cambridge by about 10:30, and sat on the couch watching a movie in the evening. It was a great day of activity, and relaxing.

Today is back to the grind of cleaning house, grocery shopping, and all that “adult stuff” that always seems to pile up.

What did everyone else do this weekend? Anyone have anything fun to add to “Things you’d like to do before you die…”?

Be back later this week with a very delayed recap of my Croatia trip!

 

Santorini, Greece

As we continue through to the second part of my Greece trip, I will try and not flood this post with pictures. But I’m not going to lie- that’s going to be very, very hard for me. As Santorini was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.

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Interestingly enough, Santorini is sometimes connected as being the actual “lost city of Atlantis”. The city was inhabited and was thriving prior to a volcanic eruption that covered the island in 1640 BC. Even though there have been many, many findings that lead to explanations of how people back then lived (a rich farming community, that grew wine, a large port, etc.) they have never found a single human body. Therefore, it seems like everyone got away before the volcano erupted.

Whether or not, Santorini is the lost city, there is an old, inactive volcano that is close by, and therefore natural hot springs (which I would classify more as warm than anything) and some beautiful beaches. It is an amazing place to visit.

My mom and I took a boat in to Santorini, which took about 7 hours from Athens. It was quite a bit cheaper to take the boat (rather than fly), and I thought it would be a nice, relaxing day- and I was right. I ended up taking about 15 pictures of the water along the way as it was so crystal blue. Definitely a long way to get there, but I still enjoyed it.

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We hadn’t pre-arranged how we would get from the boat to the hotel, and as you step off the boat you are swarmed by people trying to convince you to stay at their hotel, and transport you there. We sat and waited until the crowd had died down, and ended up getting a cheap deal that dropped us off directly at our hotel.

We were a 5 minute walk from Fira, and it was stunning. The buildings are all white, and built on top of a cliff overlooking the sea. We spent the entire day just wandering around the streets (which are a fantastic labyrinth) and enjoying the heat.

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The second day, we went back down to the water, as we had signed up for a boat trip that would take us to the hot springs, as well as let us hike around the old dormant, volcano (which is on a separate island).

 

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Swimming around the hot springs was kind of weird to be honest. You have to swim into the hot springs, so when you first get into the water, it is absolutely freezing. Plus because of the sulfur, it’s a weird brown colour. Eventually it does get warmer, but it was tepid at best.

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The old volcano was really cool to wander around. We had about an hour to hike about- and it was just beautiful to see how much vegetation was growing on it (which made me think of The Incredibles, where the bad guy lives on a volcano where he grows all his own food).

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As the buildings at Santorini are located on the top of the cliffs, to go from the water to the buildings, there are 4 options: you can drive, you can take a cable car, you can ride a donkey, or you can walk 600 steps up. My mom and I decided that rather than paying the 2 Euros to ride the donkey, we would walk up the steps after our day of swimming and hiking around the volcano. We had to stop several times because we were gasping so hard from being short of breath! Who needs a gym when you can just climb up 600 steps!

The next day we rented a car, and drove to the other side of the island. The island has a black beach (named after it’s black sand), a white beach (as the sand is normal sand colour), and a red beach, because the cliffs have red soil. We went to both the black beach, and the red beach- and they were beautiful.

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I loved the red beach the best, as there were these random doors on the side of the cliff. I think they were change rooms, but I am sad to say that I never actually checked! I’m still curious what was behind the doors!

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We ended our final day by going to Oia, which is known for having one of the most beautiful sunsets. I wish we had gotten there earlier, as by the time we arrived, there was nowhere to sit to watch the sunset as there were crowds everywhere. Instead, we found a nice spot to lean against a stone wall, and watched as the sun went down.

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It was such a beautiful place to visit.

One day I’d love to go back to Greece with friends, as I have heard the islands are amazing to go out and dance in. But a vacation with my mom didn’t really cover that, as we would generally have some wine and just catch up after a long absence.

I cannot wait for May, when she is back again, and we can finally have some more time together. Now if only I could convince my sister to join us, the trip would be perfect

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Has anyone else been to Greece? Where was your favourite spot?

Athens, Greece

Happy Wednesday friends,

How’s everyone’s week going? Mine’s been good so far- though started at a terribly early time yesterday, as I had to be leaving the house for 4:30 am in order to catch my morning flight to Zagreb. An alarm going off at 4 am is pretty much the worst thing ever!

I don’t have pictures of Croatia yet, as so far it’s just been me working either at the client office, or working at my hotel (with taxi’s taking me between each place). I will be exploring more this weekend, and will be able to catch you up then with what I saw and how it was.

But first, I thought we would continue down my memory lane trip, to a trip I took almost a year ago- when I spent 8 days in Greece. This trip was made especially fantastic, as I went there with my mom. We spent 4 days in Athens, and 4 days on the island Santorini.

First up, Athens. My mom and I arrived in Athens a bit later in the day, and the first thing on my mind was finding a restaurant where I could shout “Opa!” and break a plate. Lucky for us, I’m not the only one wanting to do this, so we found a place almost immediately.

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I learnt that I’m not very good at breaking plates, as after I threw the plate on the ground, it was mostly still intact. I picked it up and threw it down again, and it was still mostly intact. I break a lot of glasses at home, and always seem to shatter those quite well- so maybe next time I should just accidentally knock the plate over. It seems to work well for those wine glasses I keep breaking.

Our hotel in Athen was so perfectly placed. The view below was from the rooftop patio that you could enjoy an evening drink, as well as eat your breakfast from in the morning.

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The view below here is from the other side of the hotel, and was “The Temple of Zeus”. We never actually went to see this close up, as we figured the view from our hotel was just as good as anything we would’ve seen actually being on the ground.

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Our first full day in Greece, my mom and I started out with a bus tour, which took you around to the sites. I had a good laugh as we bought our tickets, as the bus driver asked if I was over 12, as otherwise I could’ve bought a child’s ticket. I like to think I’m ageing well, but I am quite obviously above 12 so I’m still very confused about what the driver was thinking on that one. Perhaps he figured it was a compliment?

The bus tour is meant to be a “hop on, hop off” sort of a ticket, as you have 24 hours to ride this bus from the time you buy your ticket. However, my mom and I decided to stay on the bus the entire ride, and then afterwards stop off at the sites that we wanted to see more of.

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My favourite Greek corner.

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After the bus tour, we found ourselves hiking up a bajillion steps to find a stunning view of Athens. The place is called Lycabettus hill, and it is 278 metres high above Athens. The view definitely made the climb worth it- but the picture below was taken so that we could catch our breath more than anything.

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Each day, my mom and I took it pretty easy, with generally some site seeing, and then a meal where we would sit and chat for hours. This was good because the service in Greece is soooo slow. We’d arrive at the restaurant, absolutely starving, and would desperately be trying to catch the eye of our server so that he or she would come over and place our order. However, at times it almost felt like they were intentionally ignoring us as they quickly whizzed by us. It was made worthwhile though, as I love Greek food and the food was amazing.

Interstingly enough, the food was better in Athens than on the island. Greek yogurt has forever been ruined for me, as the creamy, tasty, amazingness that is actual Greek yogurt is NOTHING like the greek yogurt you can buy from the local grocery store. And the feta cheese…mmmm- I would go back just for more feta cheese.

Anyways, moving on (as I have just made myself incredibly hungry), day 2, my mom and I went to visit the Parthenon. For those who are unfamiliar, the Parthenon is the formal temple that was dedicated to Athena, the goddess the city is named after. Construction of it began in 438 BC, and to this day is considered the high part of Greek art. The Parthenon is just one building, whereas the entire area is the Acropolis. You should definitely carve out a few hours to see the entire area. Everything that I read said to go either early in the day, or later in the evening, as the crowds can be pretty intense during high tourist season. Thankfully, May (when I was there), wasn’t too crazy and while there were tourists about, it was never too busy to be able to see what we wanted.

Such as, the theater below:

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Some areas can be more remote than others, and this area, with nature almost taking over the stairs allowed me to feel what it might have been like to have lived in Ancient Greek times.

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There is a ton of construction happening at the Acropolis. I was actually a bit dissapointed when I realised that part of the reason why there is still so much here to see, is because it is actually being rebuilt. They have removed a lot of the originals, where you can now see the actual artifacts in museums, and are replacing the actuals with copies. However, the scale of the size of this, and thinking of the technology they had to build everything, still blew my mind.

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Above is an olive tree which is perfectly placed outside one of the ancient buildings, and ties in beautifully with the fable of how Athens got its name.

A legendary creature named Cecrops built a beautiful city at the top of a hill. Cecrops was half man and half snake and called his city Cecropia. The gods of Olympus became jealous of this beautiful city. It was located in a stunning region and was prosperous, yet the city did not pay any tribute to them. Two gods emerged as the primary contenders for who the city should be name after: the god of the sea, Poseidon, and the goddess of wisdom, Athena. They both pleaded with Zeus, the ruler of the gods, to become the patron deity of Cecropia.

After thorough consideration, Zeus arrived at a decision. Both gods would present King Cecrops and his citizens with a gift. The citizens would choose a gift, and the corresponding god would become the patron deity and the city would be renamed in his or her honour.

After weeks of preparation, the two gods were prepared to present their gifts to the city. On a beautiful, sunny day, the citizens gathered on a hill to receive their gifts. First, Poseidon stepped to the highest point of the hill. He struck his legendary trident into the hilltop, creating a fountain of water. Poseidon declared, “Choose me as your patron god, and I will provide you with a never-ending flow of water. You shall never again experience a drought or thirst.”

The citizens were thrilled, at first; however, they quickly discovered that the water tasted of salt, as Poseidon was the god of the sea. They knew from their experience with sea water that it would not satisfy their thirst nor would it help their crops.

Athena then took the place of Poseidon. She held out her hand to reveal a single seed. She threw it into the ground, where it immediately took root and grew into an olive tree. Athena gently declared, “With me as your patron goddess, I will plant these trees all throughout the region. You will be able to harvest these trees for food, oil and firewood.” Astounded, everyone in attendance exclaimed, “Athena!”

And hence- Athens :)

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Day 3- my mom and I spent the better part at the museum. We learnt more about the Acropolis and saw a lot of the items which used to be actually at the Acropolis but have now been moved to the museum (when I went to the British museum a few months ago, I finally saw many more of the ancient relics, as the British stole a bunch of the artifacts a while back, and the government is now fighting to get them back).

After the museum, we just wandered around the city. One of my favourite parts of Athens was that you can be wandering down almost any street, and suddenly you are amonst old ruins which were a University that was set up by Plato.

 

 

 

 

 

Athens was a great place to visit, and I absolutely adored my time there.

However, the beauty of Greece is magnified even further on the islands, and where I want to go back and spend even more of my time.

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International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day everyone!

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Personally, equality for women is something that I hugely believe in.

Up until I was 19, and took my first Sociology class, I can honestly say I never felt discriminated against because I was a woman. There are studies (here)  that show that teachers will give boys more time to answer questions, and will ask different questions to boys so that they can expand more onto the conversation. I also found this study interesting, which relates to how boys and girls receive different feedback and that changes how they learn and deal with challenges.

I was lucky in that my personal experience was not in line with the statistics. I was always a huge nerd in school, and I loved to learn. As such, I would often be the person who was answering the questions raised by the teacher (sometimes just because I was bored and couldn’t believe that no one else would answer the seemingly very obvious question). I felt encouraged by my teachers, and by my friends, to continue to learn, and Math was my favourite subject (which probably had something to do with me becoming an accountant), with Biology a very close second. I was encouraged to enter into a full Advanced Placement program in high school, and I received early admission into University, majoring in Science before changing my degree to Commerce.

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But my experience is not typical of what a lot of other girls and women experience. And once I took the first Sociology class in University, where I started to question if women were being treated in the same way as men, I started seeing more of it.

Women are under-represented in most high-earning careers. There are articles everywhere about this- with a quick google search I found articles where women are under-represented in science; in technology; in academia; and pretty much any other career choice that you search.

Women are graduating univeristy at the same rate, or at higher rates, than men, but are continuing to drop out of the work world. And I feel like at this point I should add the ever so important caveat- if that is what a woman wants, then that is 100% fine. This issue, for me, is not about making it so that every single woman is a business tycoon. It’s about ensuring that the opportunity is there for the women who do want to do it.

I think that women should be accepted for whatever choice they want to make. And for that matter- so should men!

If a woman wants to stay at home, and raise her children- that’s great. If a man wants to stay at home and raise his children- that’s great too. Men are also discriminated against – in that, they are expected to achieve business success, and if they want to give up their career to be more active in their families live, they are shamed, and told they are not “a man”.

If a woman wants to succeed in the work world, that’s great too! Let’s create the opportunities so that she is receiving the same chances to do this.

With the recent focus on Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In”, and celebrities endorsing movements like BanBossy, and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, there is an ever increasing focus on trying to do the right things to change this.

I love the focus that this issue is getting, and I hope it continues to grow and spread until girls and boys are both raised with the idea that they can achieve whatever it is that they want to achieve. And so how I am celebrating International Women’s Day is to continue to spread the word. Women and men- let’s find what we want to do, and do it! Without judging others for their choices!

What are your thoughts out there? Do you believe women are still discriminated against?

Yogi Rant

Happy Wednesday everyone! Mid-way through the week :)

Anyone celebrating with some yoga?

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I wanted to share with everyone one of my pet peeves. And I am calling it a yogi rant because I am about to rant about it, and hey- the website is called  Yogi in Action, therefore I am qualifying myself as a yogi :)

So-what’s my rant about? Our society’s obsession with the concept of “You deserve this. You earned it.”

I was working out the other day, in a quite intensive barre class. And we took a 30 second break to stretch out our legs about mid-way through the class. And the instructor continued to repeat “Enjoy this! You earned it- you deserve it.”

Um- say what? Why do I need to earn a leg stretch? And that comment had my brain thinking of how often we tell ourselves this. We barter with ourselves on what we have to do to be able to enjoy something.

And this just sets us up for failure. Because when we’ve been denying ourselves what we want for so long, the thing that we’re working towards “deserving” has to become bigger and better. It has to make up for everything that we’ve been putting off, and all the pain we’ve gone through. And eventually- no matter how great the reward is, it just can’t make it worth while.

I remember, back in my days of calorie counting, when I made myself a peppermint hot chocolate at home. I measured out the teaspoons exactly as described on the instructions (therefore, ensuring I had the correct calorie count included for the day) and mixed in the hot water. I sat on the couch, sipping my drink and all I could think was how the calories weren’t “worth it”. I wasn’t enjoying my drink enough to make it worth those calories.

My philosophy now is a tad different than that person I was 7 years ago. Now I say f*ck it!

You want the hot chocolate right now? Drink it (and you’re going to want to use about twice the prescribed mix, and you should probably have some milk in there too for flavour). Have that croissant too if that’s what you want.

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You want to stretch out your legs without an intensive work out? Great! Enjoy that stretch!!

You want to lay around all day and watching movies? Have fun!

Let’s all enjoy life right now, and stop needing ourselves to earn that enjoyment first.

So happy Wednesday everyone! Go and enjoy your day :) I’ll be enoying a yoga class, and then a little bit of wine!

I’d love to hear from you guys. What do you think of the “you deserve it” mindset? Or, what’s you pet peeve?

 

Upcoming summer travels

Hi all,

How was everyone’s week? Mine was filled with work and a bit of working out. I’ve also spent quite a bit of time looking into future trips of mine, and I finally have a few trips actually planned and I am soo excited!

Next week:

I am heading to Zagreb, Croatia next week as one of my client’s has their accounting records held in Croatia. I’m flying out for work, but staying over the weekend to explore a bit. You always hear about Crotian beaches, and I am sad I won’t have an opportunity to visit during this trip. But a trip to the capital isn’t something to complain about either :)

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April:

I’m heading to Prague, Czech Republic for Easter weekend. I’m flying out Thursday, 2 April and am staying till late night on the 5th April. The more I research about Prague the more it sounds like an amazing place to visit.

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May:

This is currently the one I spent all of today booking hotels, and I am soooo excited for. I am heading to Portugal for 2 weeks with my mom. Can. Not. Wait!!!

First up, I am spending 5 days in Lisbon, and the plan is to visit a couple of day trips around the area.

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Then flying up north to Porto, which is the home of port so will definitely be enjoying a vineyard.

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And ending in the south of Portugal, in the beautiful beaches of Lagos.

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I cannot wait! Only two more months. I have it all booked and I think it’s going to be an amazing trip.

I currently don’t have any travel plans for June, July or August, but I am still trying to arrange a few more trips. Any suggestions of areas I’ve missed in my travels so far?

And then, I am spending two weeks in September back in Canada. This trip will be amazing as I have some times with my sister, my mom, and then am heading out on a stagette weekend and finally, my friend’s wedding day.

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[Last trip home was for my other friend’s wedding last summer so this is representative for next year].

So far, it is shaping up to be another great year of travels!!

Anyone else have plans for traveling? I would love to hear about them!

Barcelona!

Hope you all have enjoyed my trip recap from the first half of my time in Spain. Honestly- writing these recaps out are so much fun. I get to re-experience my time and look through the many pictures that I took.

Next stop- onto Barcelona. I think Barcelona is one of my favourite places I’ve been to. It has a little bit of everything- it has a beautiful beach, a great nightlife, amazing sites to see, and so much more.

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So the first thing my friend and I did when we arrived in Barcelona, was we went and saw the Segrada Familia. This church was designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi, and his imprint is all over the city. But nowhere is as apparent as on this church. The church first started being built in 1882, and they are still building it. Estimated completion date is 2040.

When Gaudi died, in 1926, the project was only about 25% complete. However, his designs have continued to be followed for this church. His intention around the church was to mimic that what you say in nature. There are pillars which look like trees, and the roof is meant to look like the canopy of leaves. There is an entire section in the church where you can read more about Gaudi’s inspirations. The canopy of leaves for the roof symbolises how, just like trees cover you from rain, God’s house covers you from the troubles of the world.

The church is truly a masterpiece. We had to wait for about an hour, maybe a bit more, to buy our tickets, but it was worth the wait.

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Definite must see of Barcelona!

After the trip to the Segrada Familia, we continued on a Gaudi experience, and saw another building which he had also designed. We decided to wait until the next day to see Park Guell, a park which has his designs all over. Now, one thing I wish I had known beforehand- was, that when you buy your ticket to go into the Segrada Familia, you can buy your ticket for other things as well. We purchased tickets to see the Gaudi museum, for the next day. This ticket is time stamped, so you have a timeframe for your entrance. We didn’t time out how long it would take us to go from the hotel to the museum, and ended up having to run through most of Park Guell to get to the museum on time. And there was no one there! The museum is not actually in the ticketed part of the Park Guell, and therefore is much less popular. So- buy your ticket to get into the park beforehand (not the museum!) at the Segrada Familia and save yourself a second line-up!

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We rounded out our first day by checking out the Barcelona fruit market. Which is pretty much my favourite place ever. It sells everything food related- fruits, juices, vegetables, meats, candy, drinks- everything! It was cheap to buy stuff, and everything we bought was delicious. I went back three separate times and just wanted to wander about the shop.

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It was such a great day.

The next day, we went to the Park Guell and saw the Gaudi museum. From this,  I have no pictures as the “museum” is actually just his house. And Gaudi was a very austere man. Personally, I think that if you’re not a huge Gaudi fanatic, this is probably a stop better missed.

But to go inside the Park Guell, is a must-do. I loved the Park. It’s very touristy, and you do have to buy a time-stamped entry ticket. My tip? If you’re entry is 1:30-2 (as ours was). Wait until about 1:50 to go in. Everyone else from that time has already entered and you can skip a line (and enjoy a glass of sangria while you wait).

Park Guell actually has kind of a fun story. The park was originally built with the intention of urbanisation. There was a plan to build about 60 houses in the area. However, only two houses were ever built. The first was built, to be a “show house”, and a second was built and put up for sale. No one ever came forward to buy it. Finally, Gaudi bought it (and is now where the museum is held). Now the park is one of the most touristy things to do in Barcelona, and all because the housing development failed!

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We ended this night on a tapas tour that we had signed up for. Some of my friends had gone on it when they were in Barcelona, and loved it, so we signed up for it. I wish someone would’ve told me to eat beforehand though! It was an absolutely great night, though I would’ve like more to eat! The tapas tour had us go to three different bars, where we had between 1-4 tapas at each place. As each tapa was mostly a piece of bread, with a bit of food on top, it was not nearly enough food. Especially as we were having equivalent drinks at each place.

Including, at the second stop, where we learnt how to drink from a porron. This is a traditional Spanish glass wine pitcher. Our guide told us how, at a dinner party, or similar gatherings, this is passed around and everyone has some. No glasses are used as your lips never touch the pitcher, therefore allowing everyone to drink directly from it. Which then had us passing it around, trying out our skill at it.

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At the tapas tour, my friend and I ended up meeting 4 other Canadians, 2 Americans, and an Australian. After the official tour was over, the 9 of us bought some drinks to enjoy down at the beach, and then headed to a club for some late night dancing. The night was an absolute blast….though did mean that both Erin and I slept until 2 in the afternoon the next day.

While both of us wanted to do nothing but lay in bed and re-hydrate, it was our last day in Spain, and we knew we had to rally and finish up the trip with the one thing we had missed.

The beach

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Did I mention that Barcelona is amazing and has a stunning beach right in the city? Because it does!

We spent a few hours laying on the sand before having a final Spanish meal in Barcelona. The next day we were up, and Erin was back to Canada, and I went back to the UK.

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As I started my recap to Spain, I absolutely loved this trip. Spain is a beautiful country, and there is still so much that I want to see. A trip back is hopefully in the cards for me at some point, because it was fantastic!

I’d love to hear more from others about any of your trips to Spain! Anywhere I missed that I should go to next time? My next travel recap is my trip to Greece!

Travelling through Southern Spain

HI friends,

Sorry for the lack of blogging! I’m really working on creating a good balance of blogging when I have something to say, and time to properly say it. I didn’t have the time over the past week due to life and work being busy, so I had to wait until things eased up a bit.

I missed you all though!

After a couple of week’s with no travel recaps, I thought I would start up again with my trip to Spain.

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I will start this recap off with the simple fact that I loved Spain! Loved it so much. And I knew I would love it the moment that I arrived in Seville. It was evening when we arrived, and my friend and I went to a little shop where we had some sangria and tapas. It was about 11 pm and still very hot (Seville is very south, and we were there in June so during the day it was around 40 degrees C- very hot).

Our first full day in Seville, we started it off with seeing the Seville Cathedral. It is the largest Gothic church, the largest cathedral in the world, and the third largest church in the world. And it was stunningly beautiful.

We approached it from the wrong way, so we had to walk about half-way around it to find an entrance. Upon the entrance were some old ladies, with one approaching both my friend and me. Now, I speak a very,very minimal amount of Spanish- so little, it’s probably more accurate to just say I don’t speak Spanish. But this lady proceeded to give me my “fortune” for about 10 minutes, in full Spanish, despite me trying to stop her several times since I couldn’t understand what she was telling me. In the end she gave me a little tree, and I gave her a few euros so she would leave me (despite her insisting that I actually owed her 10 euros). So if in Seville- watch out for the ladies giving “fortunes” outside of the church.

However, eventually we did see the church and it was beautiful.

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My friend and I spent the rest of the day wandering around Seville. You can tell the church has a huge history in Spain, as pretty much anytime you see a building, it’s a church. It was a very, very hot day, so we rounded out our first day with some time at the pool of our hotel. A must if you are there in June!

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Day 2 in Seville started with a trip to Plaza de Espana. While the plaza is fairly new, especially in European standards, as it was built in 1929, it was stunningly beautiful. It was built with Spanish tiles everywhere, and is more a piece of art than building. It inspires thoughts of a time long past.

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After wandering around the city all day (with many breaks into air conditioned shops and cafes), we spent the evening in an air-conditioned building (can not stress enough how hot it was when we were there), and watched Flamenco dancing. Flamenco dancing gets its roots from this area, and is a form of Spanish folk music, and includes dancing, singing, and some fantastic Spanish guitar. The dancing is reminiscent of tap dance, but has so much more flair. The show itself was about an hour long, and was amazing to watch the performance live.

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Day 3 in Seville was actually spent outside of Seville. As soon as my friend and I started planning a trip to Spain, we knew we had to go to Granada, and see the Alhambra (more about it below). My friend organised buying our ticket, as tickets in high tourist season can sell out far in advance. The ticket allows entry for a 30 minute time frame, and the website is clear that if you miss your time slot, your ticket is no longer valid.

This was concerning to my friend and I, as we had some difficulties getting the train to Granada. Due to confusions when buying our ticket, the woman at the counter sold us the ticket that was directly to Granada, which meant we were to arrive at 3:10, despite our entry time being between 3-3:30. We had looked up train times the day before, and had arranged to be at the train station for 8 am, due to another train showing that it would get us to Granada for noon. We later realised that the confusion was the train we had found was not a direct train, so the woman working at the train station hadn’t realised that it was an option. Unfortunately, by the time we realised this (and ran to the counter to try and buy tickets for the train we wanted), we were told we had missed the cut-off time to purchase tickets for that train time. As such, we took the later train, and had to run from the train station, to a taxi, and then across the grounds of the Alhambra to get to the entry place for our ticket. We were very lucky, as we didn’t arrive until 4 and were still let in. However,  I don’t advise anyone to ever repeat this!

The run and confusion was worth it once we were in.

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The Alhambra construction first began in 899, but was then abandoned until mid-11th century. The palace was built for the final Islamic rulers in Spain. As such, it has a very middle Eastern feel to it. From the ceilings, to the floors, everything is carved and beautifully detailed. It is a world heritage site, and if you are ever in Southern Spain, it is a must-see.

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It was worth the 4 hours we spent on the train that day, as well as the massive confusion while trying to book trains and figure everything out. It is definitely a full day event, so if you are planning a trip- don’t plan anything else that day.

That night, we took the train back to Seville, and collapsed exhausted into our beds. We were up bright and early the next morning, as we had a flight to catch to Madrid.

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We were only in Madrid for two days, and I’m sure there will be many people who disagree with me for saying this- but that was more than enough time. Truthfully, Madrid was a let down after Seville- and I much preferred Barcelona over Madrid as well.

Now, this could be that I was there when the King of Spain was stepping down, and his son was ascending to the throne. And the hotel we stayed at was right by the palace. As such, everytime we went anywhere, we had to go through a security check and have our bags searched. We didn’t even try and go to the event where the King stepped down, as there were just people everywhere. I’m also not a huge museum person- and the main thing to do in Madrid are see museums- there are so, so many. However, as I didn’t really want to go to those museums, I found that two days was sufficient time.

What did we do since we didn’t spend any time at the museums? Well, we shopped. Madrid has some fantastic shopping. We saw the palace, but unfortunately, due to the timing of the King stepping down, we were unable to go inside at all.

We also checked out a beautiful old market which I loved (up until I saw Barcelona’s market…but we’ll get there)

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And that night we checked out the Madrid nightlife. One thing you learn about going out in Spain, is the night starts out very late! The clubs don’t even open until midnight, and no one really shows up until 1 or later. The picture below was taken at 3 am, as my friend and I were starting to think about leaving as we were both exhausted from a day of sight seeing. The club was really just getting started! Very different than a Canadian night club where last call is at 2 am.

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The below is the only picture I have from the next day. My friend and I got up and saw a few sights, but it was so hot (about 35 degrees), we were exhausted (and possibly a little dehydrated) from the night before, and were generally not feeling it. As such, shortly after this picture was taken, we went back to the hotel and read our books and enjoyed some relax time after being go-go-go for the past few days.

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We did manage to leave our hotel for some delicious seafood paella. It was worth braving the heat. Another recommendation if you’re going to Spain- research where to get good paella. Spain knows that every tourist is looking for it, and the few times that Erin and I ordered it without researching beforehand, it tasted like rice with tomato sauce. The authentic paella is amazing and worth the time it takes them to make it.

 

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The next day we were off to Barcelona- my personal favourite city in Spain! However, as this post is very long- we will pick up on Barcelona next time!

Has anyone been to Seville, Granada or Madrid? What were your thoughts?

Wine and catching up

Hi friends,

How’s everyone’s week going? Mine’s been another busy one at work, though I have been able to enjoy some relax time, so I can’t complain too much.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting backwards on my trips, yoga teacher trainings, etc., so I thought I would switch it up again, with a general post of what’s happening in my life and what I’m thinking about moving forward. I always enjoy when bloggers break out the wine in post, and share things that otherwise might not have come up in a typical post.

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My glass of wine which I enjoyed in the smallest tub ever in Switzerland.

So what would I share with a friend over a glass of wine?

  • Right now, I am so bored. I’m at that antsy part of my busy season where I’ve been working long hours for 6 weeks, and I know there’s at least another 6 weeks to go. I want to go and do something that’s fun, but am so tired at the end of a work week that I often just end up sleeping in and running errands over the weekend.
  • To help with that boredom, I’m starting to look into flights and trips that I can take over the summer. While I have some planned already, I know that some are going to be on my own and I’m hesitating about where I want to go for these. I back-packed through SE Asia on my own, but that was when I was younger, and more fearless. Now I’m wishing I had more people to travel with me because it’s always more fun to have someone to share the experience with!
  • I just booked my flight back to Canada for September and I am so excited! Last time I spent only 10 days back in Canada and it was a whirlwind. This time I’m back for 2 full weeks, and I will have more time with my sister and my mom, which will be fantastic.
  • Assen is planning something for Valentine’s Day, and has been for a couple of weeks. I haven’t even bought a card or chocolates or anything! My plan is to get something in the next couple of days (otherwise I’ll run out of time) but I’m feeling pretty bad I haven’t done anything else!
  • My grandma’s been in the hospital for the past 5 weeks and is looking like she’ll be released this week. I am so happy to hear she’s being released, as when she was first admitted, she was quite sick and it would’ve been really hard to have been so far away from my family if she passed away. I’m definitely going to make some time to visit with her for my next trip to Canada!
  • I have been working from home the past couple of days because I’ve been really sick and can’t seem to stop coughing. This morning I was on a conference call and kept having to mute myself because I was coughing so hard. The good part was working from home, I was able to sleep in until about 8:15, and still start work at 8:30.

A little all over the place, I realise! But once I start talking, my mind starts going a mile a minute. How about everyone else out there? Anything you’d like to share over a glass of wine (or a small bottle)?

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How yoga teacher training changed my yoga practice

Hi everyone,

How was everyone’s week? Sorry there was no mid-week post this week. The week kind of got away from me!

I thought it would be fun to switch up the travel posts a bit longer, and talk about my yoga practice a bit and how it’s changed since I completed my yoga teacher training.

For those who are new to my blog, in July 2013, I moved down to Nosara, Costa Rica for a month to obtain my yoga teacher certificate.

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I absolutely adored my time there. Nosara is a stunningly beautiful place, with fresh food, a beautiful sandy beach to take walks on, as well as you are in the middle of a lush, green jungle.

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The yoga itself was intense, with a 2 hour morning session each day, a 3 or 4 hour session (some theory, some training) in the afternoon, and a further 2 or 3 hours in the evening for more theory and occasionally more yoga. I figured I was doing about 5-8 hours of yoga a day, plus walking for at least an hour a day to get around. As such, by the end of that month, I was in fantastic shape!

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However, when I came back to my “real world”, I became very busy with life. Within two weeks of being back from Costa Rica, I was packed up and moving to the UK.

Now that some time has passed, I have started looking back and reflecting on this experience and how it changed me. It also brings me back to one main question:  how has my practice changed since that month spent doing yoga on the beach?

For starters, I stopped going to a yoga studio. This was partially due to financial reasons, as regularly going to a studio can get very expensive, very quickly. An easy way for me to save money was to start doing yoga at home. Sometimes I create my own flow, and other times I sign up for online yoga classes. I feel like I have a solid base to be able to complete these flows with the correct alignment.

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My new yoga studio

Secondly, becoming a certified yoga instructor actually made me realise that being a yoga teacher wasn’t for me. While this may not have actually changed my yoga practice, I would say there was a shift in my perception based on this, so I have included it. While I enjoyed my month in Costa Rica, I was ready to go home by the end of it. I immersed myself in yoga for an entire month, and found that I wanted more variety. There were people who attended the training who would spend our breaks working on their postures, practicing their classes, and reading more about yoga. Those are the people who I want to be my instructor at a yoga class! But for me, I like to practice my yoga, and then I’m ready for something else. On my breaks, I would travel around the island, or watch movies from my hammock. One of my favourite days was when a bunch of us rented quads, and spent the day at a waterfall before heading up to the highest point in town to have a drink and watch the sunset. Picture below is from that day and makes me smile to see it!

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Finally, my yoga practice has changed because despite the fact that I might not go to a studio anymore, and I realised being a yoga teacher wasn’t for me, I still learnt more and changed because of the experience. In general, I would say I stress less about stuff now, and have learnt how to “let go”. Things will always change, and keep changing, and I would say that I’m a bit better at just letting those changes happen without becoming too attached to what I currently have, or what I want to happen. This reflects in my yoga practice (with sometimes not being able to touch my toes on a stiff day, and being less concerned about that) as well as just my general life (which helps when I have a deadline and am at work until 2:30 am to get it done, less stress about getting it done and more action focused on what needs to happen next).

Has anyone else completed their training? How did they feel afterwards?